In one of my recent blog posts I mentioned that I was looking for a house to rent. I applied for one last week but hadn’t heard back from them (until this afternoon). I was starting to get concerned that I hadn’t gotten the place. I knew I made enough money to afford the rent, so that shouldn’t have been the issue. I started to think of other reasons I might have gotten passed up. The first thing that came to my mind was my credit score. What was it? Could I have missed a payment on something? Maybe that credit card I never activated affected me negatively? With all these questions about my credit going through my mind I remembered the popular jingle from freecreditreport.com. I decided to go on and check it out. After all it should be free. Their name has the word free in it.
I went to their website and started filling out their questions. Once I was through, they gave me the option to wait two days and get my credit score for free or pay $1 and get it instantly. I was there to get it for free, so naturally I waited. Once I got my score back I was happy. It’s very good considering one of my credit cards is new, and I’ve never purchased real estate. I was so pleased with my score I decided to tell my girlfriend’s father about it. Once I was done, he seemed interested in checking his own credit. The only thing he asked me (which I’m glad he did) is if the website is secure. I wasn’t totally sure. At this point I was praying it was. I decided to do a little research to make sure. To my relief, everything seemed to check out OK. I was glad to find out my information was safe, but I was disturbed to also find out that after seven days they were going to start billing me almost $20 a month to track my credit score. Now, I know it’s my fault that I didn’t read the fine print, but the word FREE is in the name FREEcreditreport.com. I was able to call them and cancel my account before they charged me, but that’s how they make their money. I thought it was funny because when you call them to cancel they immediately offer you 50% off the first six months. I guess their accustomed to people actually wanting a free credit report.
This whole story boils down to a few things:
1) You can get a free credit score. One way to do it is to go to freecreditreport.com. Then, select to wait two days. After you get your score call them and cancel (you have 7 days from when you sign up). You don’t even have to talk to anyone. It’s all automated. I would recommend keeping the cancellation e-mail they send you just in case.
2) If you want to track your credit score you can get 50% off the first 6 months by signing up and then threaten to cancel your account.
P.S. I ended up getting the house!
March 23, 2012 at 8:47 AM
When I worked at a bank I would get customers that had overdrawn accounts because they were being charged from “free” credit report websites. I think it’s very deceiving what they do. I’ve heard you can get your score for free without having to go through any loops. I think the website is annualcreditreport.com
March 23, 2012 at 9:29 AM
Yeah it’s definitely has questionable business practices. I just like to feel like I beat the system!
March 23, 2012 at 4:00 PM
Yay you got the house!
And I’m glad you could cancel before they changed you the 20$/month! Quite frankly, I don’t know why I would want to track my credit score every month though… Not in a business to care about that!
March 23, 2012 at 4:37 PM
You would track it to make sure someone didn’t steal your identity. It can also let you know if you forget to pay for something.
March 24, 2012 at 4:02 AM
Oh I see! Interesting! As you may have guessed, I’m the worst when it comes to finances… Speaking of which, I’ve heard that having your credit checked often lowers your score, is that true?
March 24, 2012 at 8:21 AM
Yes. I’m not exactly sure why but I know it can go dowb because of that. Credit scores are so tricky. I mean why would having debt be a good thing? Yet the banks reward us for it.
April 27, 2012 at 11:03 AM
Part of the rationale for this is that someone whose credit score is being checked frequently is applying for a LOT of credit. This does (and should) make people offering the credit nervous.
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